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  • Team Canada (C),Team Mexico (L) and Team USA stand on the podium after winning the gold, silver and bronze medals respectively in the Artistic Swimming during the XVIII Pan American Games on July 31, 2019.

    Team Canada (C),Team Mexico (L) and Team USA stand on the podium after winning the gold, silver and bronze medals respectively in the Artistic Swimming during the XVIII Pan American Games on July 31, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 August 2019

The U.S. team leads in medals, with Mexico, Canada and Brazil close behind.

The XVIII Pan American Games, kicked off last week in Peru, are well underway with over 6,000 athletes from 41 countries competing until August 11. 

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The Pan Ams, as they are referred to, serve as 2020 Olympic qualifiers in 23 sports.

So far, of the 41 nations represented in the games taking place in Lima, Peru, the United States, which has the largest team by far with 643 members, leads in medals won with a combined 81. Mexico and Canada are both tied at 51 medals each as of Aug. 1., according to Pan Am Sports Organization. Brazil will be taking back at least 40 medals, 12 of which are gold. 

Host nation, Peru, has earned 12 medals so far. The first gold came when Pacheco Mendoza came in first during the men’s marathon last Saturday. Up until now, Peru’s best haul came four years ago at the Pan Ams held in Toronto where they won three gold medals.

When the games end in almost two weeks, some 4,981 medals will have been awarded across the Pan Am and the Parapan American Games also taking place.

On Thursday, among other competitions, men and women are competing in the doubles tennis quarterfinals. Bolivia and the Dominican Republic are competing to see which will move on. The double teams are currently tied at six points each. Women tennis players representing Mexico, Giuliana Olmos and Renata Zarazua, are taking on their Paraguayan competitors, Veronica Cepede and Montserrat Gonzalez.

On Wednesday, women's Artistic Swimming teams competed. Canada's team walked away with golds, Mexico came in silver and the U.S. team members wore bronze around their necks.

These games are measuring up to be Peru’s largest sporting event that has a US$1.2 billion price tag attached.

Most of the funds were used to construct permanent sports infrastructure, like the first Olympic size swimming pool to be built in the nation since 1962, which Peru hopes could allow for more bids for elite competitions.

“Welcome everyone to the greatest show this city has ever seen,” Carlos Neuhaus, the organizing committee president, told a capacity crowd at the Estadio Nacional.

“Lima 2019 has already transformed sports in Peru.

“Today Lima has become the new sports capital of the Americas.”

There is a lot riding on the next two weeks for Peru and its athletes.

The Pan Am Games, a second-tier event to the Olympic Games, may not be among sport’s most coveted events but past hosts have parlayed success into bigger things.

Rio de Janeiro used the 2007 Pan Ams as an audition for the 2016 Summer Olympics and Toronto toyed with the same idea after staging the showcase in 2015.

Lima has given no indication it wants an Olympics but a decent medal haul along with the infrastructure upgrades, which include an athletes village to be converted into affordable housing units.

The city’s chaotic traffic is a factor, however, and getting to some of the sporting competitions is posing a challenge for ticket holders.

Athletes are competing in 39 sports at these 2019 games.

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